Security Forward, Risk and Intelligence Forum’s October meeting was held at Z/Yen's offices in the City of London. There was a record attendance and quite a few new faces around the table. The meeting started with a presentation from our ‘Speaker in Residence’, Lt Col Crispin Black, who gave a presentation entitled "The Middle East: What Next?"
Crispin questioned the position of Putin and Russia with regard to the Middle East. He pointed out that movement towards democracy is not a natural progression. He highlighted the need to engage Iran in the process of stabilising the region. When seen from an historical perspective, the current borders are a recent imposition resulting from the Sykes/Picot recommendations on carving up the old Ottoman Empire and sharing it out between Britain and France. Saudi Arabia has only been in existence since 1932. 'Islamic State' does not recognise these artificial borders and talks of Al Sham (Greater Syria) which means the whole of the Levant and Mesopotamia, as part of the Caliphate, harking back hundreds of years. Perhaps we are reaping the results of that recent European legacy? The map is not fixed. As ever, Crispin’s presentation was challenging and stimulating and enjoyed by all.
After our usual round-robin to identify ‘in tray’ issues and concerns, our second speaker was Ben Fletcher, who was Deputy Director of Olympic Security. Ben was a Member of the Olympic Security Board, who were collectively responsible for programme delivery of the thirty five related projects and management of the one billion pound budget. He gave a fascinating talk entitled "Securing the Games: Planning, Delivery And Lessons From The UK’s Biggest-Ever Security Operation". He described the sheer complexity of drawing together so many different Agencies and trying to co-ordinate all the different groups' inputs. Folks wished they'd had far more time for Q&A with Ben.
We ended the day with a most enjoyable dinner at The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) Headquarters in the City, where Michael Mainelli is an ex officio member, and were fortunate to have one of our Founder Members as our dinner speaker. Peter Fraser-Hopewell gave an excellent presentation entitled "The Challenge of Restructuring" which was most informative. He raised the security implications and cultural challenges of cross border ownership of a strategically sensitive company undergoing restructuring. We raised our glasses in celebration with a Desert Healer cocktail.
Our next meeting is planned for Wednesday 21 January 2015.